Fri, Apr 15, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Luna d'Italia 月之義大利餐廳

Address: 3, Lane 265, Dunhua S Rd, Sec 2, Taipei (台北市敦化南路二段265巷3號)
Telephone: (02) 2733 9635
Open: 11:30am to 3pm, 5:45pm to 10:30pm
Average meal: NT$600
Details: English menu, credit cards accepted

By Yu Sen-lun  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Enjoy authentic Italian food at Luna d'Italia

PHOTO: YU SEN-LUN, TAIPEI TIMES

Luna d'Italia offers a comfortable atmosphere and quality Italian food. Chef and owner Daniele Gerbino comes from Sicily originally, but worked as a chef in Italy for more than a decade, including at Michelin three-star restaurants in Florence. Three years ago he traveled to Taiwan to visit his chef brother. In the beginning he was attracted by Taipei's energetic nightlife, but eventually settled down and employed his cooking skills.

Gerbino's Taiwanese wife, Jo Chou (周孟潔) is an interior designer. Her design for this restaurant is a beige-color floor and white brick wall with a vintage feel. The simple and elegant lighting design somehow gives the small house with 30 seats an illusion of plenty of space. Customers may sit closer to each other than in bigger restaurants, yet they won't feel crowded.

The food prepared by Chef Gerbino is a mixture of Italian regions, including Milan, Sicily and Florence cuisine, and of course there are plenty choices of pastas and pizzas. Spinach souffle cake in fresh tomato sauce and octopus with potato are two original starters. The former is a refined blend of spinach, cream and baked high quality mozzarella cheese. The latter has the refreshing taste of octopus, with thin slices of potatoes and herbs. Gerbino is meticulous about the use of herbs, insisting on using fresh organic herbs and not dry bottled ones.

For the main course, I recommend the Milano-style Ossobuco in tomato sauce and the lamb stew. Both contain rich sauces and tender meat. There are 14 choices of pastas and the hand-made gnocchi dishes are must-tries. Gnocchi here is made in a portion of three-quarters potato and a quarter of flour, which makes for a smooth taste. The gnocchi with shrimp and zucchini and gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese are two popular items.

Gerbino also puts much emphasis on his selection of drinks. The high quality Italian red wine Carpineto 1999 is only NT$1500 a bottle. Nero d'Avola is a bottle of Sicilian red wine that is very fruity and has a fragrance of chestnuts, NT$1000 a bottle. As for white wine, Gerbino recommends Gavi 2004, which is NT$1350 a bottle. There are also dessert wine drinks such as grappa, sambuca and limoncello.

The restaurant is just three months old, but has been packed during weekday lunch hours and weekends since it opened.

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